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CVS Health: Smoking cessation counseling at CVS, MinuteClinic helping thousands of patients
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — On the one-year anniversary of its decision to stop tobacco sales, CVS Health released new data showing that its messages about the importance of quitting smoking for good is resonating, and that its smoking cessation program is providing personalized counseling and smoking cessation products, when appropriate, to hundreds of thousands more.
This outreach reflects CVS Health's commitment to helping people on their path to better health by becoming tobacco-free.
"One year ago, we knew that removing cigarettes and tobacco products from our stores would not be enough on its own to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our customers and patients who smoke," stated Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Health. "We believe our combined efforts of eliminating pharmacy-associated access to tobacco products and a devoted smoking cessation program through our channels will help our patients on their path to better health."
CVS Health's smoking cessation program combines the elements that are the most effective smoking cessation components: an assessment of the smoker's readiness to quit, medication support and coaching and education.
"The combination of medication and coaching is powerful and can nearly double quit rates," Brennan added. "Our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners are playing a key role in helping us implement this program."
From the smoking cessation program launch on Sept. 3, 2014, through December 2014, CVS pharmacists counseled more than 67,000 patients filling a first prescription for a smoking cessation drug or prescription nicotine replacement therapy and consulted with thousands more smokers seeking advice about OTC nicotine replacement therapy products. Prescriptions for smoking cessation medications have increased by 63% on a monthly basis in the timeframe and visits to MinuteClinic for smoking cessation counseling were up 61% compared with the prior eight months.
CVS/pharmacy also offered ready access to OTC nicotine replacement therapy products that assist smokers trying to quit. Purchases of these products increased 21% in September through December over the previous four months. In addition, customers picked up 2.3 million tobacco cessation brochures at CVS/pharmacy and thousands of "Last Pack" encouragement toolkits, reaching millions of additional smokers with education, information and support.
Smokers also sought out quitting support through a Smoking Cessation Hub on cvs.com, which neared one million visits through December. Approximately 25,000 smokers completed Nicotine Dependency Quizzes during these website visits and more than 2,500 of them followed up with calls to a smoking quit line operated by the American Cancer Society for additional support and access to services in local communities.
"The hard work of quitting smoking is worth it because there are many health benefits," stated Helena Foulkes, president of CVS/pharmacy. "Approximately 7-in-10 smokers say they want to quit and about half attempt to quit each year. But challenges still exist, including the fact that fewer than half of smokers report being advised to stop smoking. Through our continuing efforts we hope to change that."